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TMCNet:  The Stanly News & Press, Albemarle, N.C., Ian Faulkner column

[November 21, 2012]

The Stanly News & Press, Albemarle, N.C., Ian Faulkner column

Nov 21, 2012 (The Stanly News & Press - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- In 2006, researchers at Duke University developed a working, albeit imperfect, invisibility cloaking device.

With this cloaking material, one can render a person or object nearly invisible.

Since then, with the help of graduate student Nathan Landy, Duke has now produced a better functioning cloaking device, according to a news release from the university on Nov. 12.

It seems that our technology is beginning to match our fiction.

Technological innovations have grown in leaps and bounds since man began harnessing tools.

So far, we've been able to make some of our greatest dreams reality through utilizing our technology.

We can replace lost limbs with artificial prosthesis, go to the market to get food whenever we need and travel great distances in short amounts of time.

However, just a few short years ago, if someone told you that scientists would develop an invisibility cloak, you'd tell them they were out of their minds.

"That's not reality, that's fantasy," they would say.

What many people don't realize is that fantasy has its basis in reality; one defines the other, lending substance and meaning to the way we conceive these notions.

One hundred years ago, no one could picture a thing called the internet.

Instead they could imagine a power out there called telepathy that would allow you to communicate with another person across distances without uttering a single syllable, utilizing the power of the mind through a pseudo-magical understanding of the world.

Over the years we've seen a transition from a society that imagined everything as having a supernatural origin to a society that expects science to explain all.

Science has become a new religion, so to speak.

The German philosopher Max Weber called this modern transition disenchantment.

Science is coming to accomplish what many thought only "magic" could do.

I find this all very exciting, though I must disagree with the idea that the world is becoming disenchanted. If anything, I think it is becoming more enchanted.

We are getting closer and closer to being able to make our imagination's deepest desire a reality.

To me, this is a type of magic in and of itself, or it could be described as magical, at the very least.

Arthur C. Clarke, a famous science fiction writer, once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Overall, I think this movement is in a positive direction.

Truly, we are only limited by what we can imagine. If anything, this sentiment should re-enchant our perception of the world. It is intriguing to know that we can seemingly accomplish anything with the power of our imaginations, a little bit of hard work and a lot of perseverance.

We've put a man in space, we can bring a person back from the brink of death, we can communicate across vast distances nigh instantaneously and now we can seemingly turn a person invisible.

What will we think of, nay, what will we accomplish next ___ (c)2012 The Stanly News & Press (Albemarle, N.C.) Visit The Stanly News & Press (Albemarle, N.C.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services

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